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Irreconcilable differences and divorce proceedings in the UK

If you’ve been considering filing for a divorce in the UK, then you’ve probably done some research and will almost certainly have come across the term irreconcilable differences. What you’re unlikely to have found, though, is what this means within the context of a divorce application in the UK.

On the face of things, the term appears to be self-explanatory: they’re differences that have resulted in one party seeking a divorce. Whilst this is technically true, you will find no reference to the term in any of the guides on how to complete documents or where it should be referenced within said paperwork. Many people find this to be confusing. So much so that we’re regularly asked why the documentation Quickie Divorce has prepared for our customers makes no reference to it. Fortunately, the answer is very straightforward.

Irreconcilable differences aren’t used in the UK

In the UK the only legally acceptable ground for divorce is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is proven by citing one of five reasons, specifically:

  • That one spouse has committed an act of adultery;
  • That one spouse has behaved unreasonably;
  • That one spouse has deserted the other;
  • That the couple have been living separately for more than two years and both agree to the divorce; or
  • That the couple have been living separately for more than five years.

The terms ‘irreconcilable differences’ and ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage’ are essentially interchangeable. They both refer to why a divorce is being sought, but one is used in the UK and the other in America. That said, when someone cites irreconcilable differences in America, they do not need to provide any further information. When a Divorce Petition is filed in the UK, additional information is required – particularly if unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion are being used to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

 No-fault divorce is coming

So, the key difference between irreconcilable differences and irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is that it is not necessary to apportion blame with the former. As a result, many people feel that the laws concerning divorce in America are superior to those of the UK and, ultimately, we at Quickie Divorce would agree.

If a couple do not want to wait until they have been separated for two years before filing for a divorce, then one party has to blame the other. This regularly causes disputes, even when the couple had previously agreed. This leads to unnecessarily high legal fees, delayed proceedings and, worst of all, is detrimental to successful co-parenting post-divorce.

Fortunately, it looks like this is about to change. Earlier today (8th February 2019), several outlets have reported that Justice Secretary David Gauke has confirmed that legislation removing the need for one party to blame the other before they have been living separately for several years is due to be introduced in the UK.

How Quickie Divorce can help

If you still want to obtain a divorce but don’t want to wait for the law to change and have not yet been separated from your spouse, we can help. We can prepare examples of unreasonable behaviour that are less likely to cause offence. Alternatively, we can help you prepare a Divorce Petition that, whilst it refers to your spouse’s adultery, is dispassionate and restrained.

To find out more about how Quickie Divorce can help you, get in touch with us today.

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